1 “The Hunt” isn’t simply an icily seductive Danish suspense film. It’s a contemporary horror story about a respected man’s descent into a Kafkaesque nightmare of denunciations, dread and danger. It has an insinuating pull that takes us into the dark realms of the human psyche, with a gripping case of injustice at the center of things. Mads Mikkelsen is flat-out brilliant as a laconic, divorced 40-something with a rocky past who has taken up day-care work after his teaching job was downsized.
2 The 20th-anniversary edition of Jim Northrup’s “Walking the Rez Road” includes the original 40 stories about hard-living, hard-drinking Indians on a northern Minnesota reservation as well as new material: poems, a play and some of Northrup’s newspaper work. The stories stand the test of time, as blackly humorous, plain-spoken and earthy as they were in 1993. The writing is pared down and simple, with a vivid sense of place. “The wind was combing the tangles out of the rice.” Northrup knows this life, and this area, to the bone.
3 “Fruitvale Station” is a heartbreaking docudrama that avoids all the traps of a “true story” film. Ryan Coogler’s fantastically assured first feature is about the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) by a cop at an Oakland, Calif., rail terminal. The movie puts us at Oscar’s side on the final day of his life in 2008. Oscar, 22, was black. A white officer shot him while he was handcuffed. Coogler refuses to dehumanize anyone as he makes solid intellectual and emotional points about the dynamics of 21st-century race-consciousness.
4 In his 60-year career, Paul Kramer painted signs, ran a frame shop and gallery, managed the State Fair art show, taught art in colleges and prisons and turned out hundreds of paintings — 25 of which are on view as “Other Realities: The Art of Paul S. Kramer” at the James J. Hill House Art Gallery. He did realist paintings of Fort Snelling and Mickey’s Diner as well as bucolic Midwestern scenes that are meditative moments marked by undercurrents of social commentary and human drama. www.mnhs.org/hillhouse.
5 Ever-adventurous Elvis Costello has collaborated with everyone from the Brodsky Quartet and opera star Anne Sofie von Otter to pop maestros Burt Bacharach and Paul McCartney. So it’s not surprising that Costello has hooked up with hip-hop’s best band, the Roots, for his next album, “Wise Up Ghost,” due in September. The preview single, “Walk Us Uptown,” is a dark, mysterious minimalist funk jam. He sings about suffering in silence, washing away sins and other inexplicable things that happen when you wander Uptown.
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